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Young Cat ends Geelong Rising Star drought

Young Cats get the cream Geelong's youngsters light up the MCG and run the Pies ragged
Cory Gregson was outstanding in Geelong's big win over Collingwood - ${keywords}
Cory Gregson was outstanding in Geelong's big win over Collingwood

THE SAYING 'You learn more from defeat than victory' could not be truer for Geelong young gun Cory Gregson, who has been named the round six NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

Gregson received the gong for his three-goal, 18-possession and four-tackle display in Friday night's confidence-boosting victory over Collingwood.

It was just the speedster's sixth game at the elite level, where he has settled into Geelong's line-up as a hard-working small forward after being taken at pick 47 in last year's draft.

While it has seemed a smooth transition for the 18-year-old, Gregson said his preparation for the AFL was borne out of lessons learned playing senior football in the SANFL for Glenelg last year.


"In one match we lost by 150 points to Port Adelaide, but I learned a lot from it because I played on (Power-listed midfielder) Kane Mitchell and just seeing the way he runs, his running patterns and how hard he works gave me a very good understanding of what it's like to be on an AFL list and how hard they work to get onto it," Gregson told AFL.com.au.

Since arriving at the Cattery, Gregson has continued to act on those lessons.

After each training session he now practises his goalkicking, refining his technique with assistant coach Blake Caracella and simulating match pressure as best he can in competitions with his teammates.

The results were obvious on Friday night, when he coolly slotted the game's opening goal after marking 40m out from goal.

"One of the things I like to focus on after each session is my goalkicking, so leading up to it I was pretty confident," Gregson said.

"I like to kick three in a row at training from about five or six different areas.

"I like to have kicking competitions with a few of the boys. I just had one with (Steven) Motlop, Stevie J (Johnson) and Darcy Lang. Darcy and I have a few competitions for coffee or breakfast."

But there's more to his role as a key forward than kicking goals, with Cats coach Chris Scott needing him to work high up the ground and be ferocious with his tackling pressure.

It was why he was particularly pleased when he wrapped up Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands and brought him to the ground in round two – despite conceding 36cm and 46kg to the League's biggest player.

"I set myself goals before every game to make sure I nail every tackle. So when I saw that I thought it was a good opportunity and I was lucky enough to stick it," Gregson said.

"It was a good confidence-booster."

Gregson becomes the first Cat to be nominated for the Rising Star since George Horlin-Smith two seasons ago (round four, 2013).